Small Agency Roadmap Tales: Taking Motion | Lawyerist

0
28

We sat down with family law attorneys Rebecca Ritchey and Sara Kelley of Sibus Law Group to discuss their experience in our Lawyerist Lab Community.

Lawyerist: Hi Rebecca and Sara! Could you give a brief description of your firm, your practice area, location, and any other details you want to tell me about it?

Rebecca: We’re Sibus Law Group. We’re a pretty small firm—we have two attorneys. We do flat-fee family law, which is everything from litigation to consulting fees on a flat-fee basis. This means clients know the cost of the services upfront and receive only the services they want. 

Looking for a Forward-Focused Support System

Lawyerist: And what were the biggest challenges in your firm right before you joined Lab?

Rebecca: When I found Lawyerist, I was originally looking for resources on reception services. But then I started to see that there was this really good community of people trying to change the practice of law—which is what we were already doing. 

We don’t have access to a community open to this kind of change here in San Diego. I attended one of the first LabCons and that’s where I found this great community of Labsters. So, you could say I wasn’t necessarily searching for community, but the community is why I stayed.

Lawyerist: How about you, Sara? What were your challenges before you were in Lab?

Sara: Similar to Rebecca. I joined a bit later than she did, but the challenges were the same—how to build a modern law firm. One of our major challenges was finding people that believed that there was something different from traditional law practice—for example, moving away from the billable hour.

Lawyerist: Rebecca, you mentioned LabCon. What was it about LabCon that made you realize you want to join Lab? 

Rebecca: At the first LabCon, we stayed up late into the evening, working on projects. The idea of collaborating to solve a problem in such a short period of time was amazing. Sara and I collaborate on our own, but when you get a group of people together who have great ideas, you can’t beat it. It wasn’t just spitballing ideas. We actually did something and that’s when I was like, “OK, these people take action!” 

Lawyerist: What was the advantage of both of you joining Lab, as opposed to just one person in the firm?

Sara: Joining together allowed us to serve different roles. Rebecca and I took a divide and conquer plan towards this. Rebecca focused on marketing and business, whereas I was able to focus on other tracks that go along with my role as the Chief Innovation Officer and Legal Engineer at the firm.

Working together in Lab puts us on the same page.

1×1 Support to Grow Your Firm Your Way

Lawyerist: How did the Lawyerist team help you implement and strategize?

Rebecca: Initially, when I joined Lab, I relied heavily on the course modules. I systemically went through those. And then when 1:1 coaching was introduced, it was so nice to know that I could go to someone if I was stuck. If I need help with, say, a social media or management issue, I have someone with that specific expertise I can talk to. 

Sara: Being able to speak to a coach in the moment when I’m stuck is invaluable. There aren’t many places you can get this kind of feedback. You can’t typically call up another attorney and say, “Hey, I want to automate my client intake system. How do I do that?”

And the people on the Lawyerist team have been through these issues and they know what they’re talking about when they provide guidance. 

Rebecca: Yeah! Prior to Lab, Sara was spending a significant amount of time researching resources. And not that we still don’t research—we’re curious, after all—but now we can get advice and support from people who have already done this work, instead of just mindlessly searching the internet. 

Accomplishments In Lab

Lawyerist: So, you’ve been in Lab a while now. What are some milestones you’ve accomplished while you’ve been here?

Rebecca: I keep thinking of how we automated our client intake system. It’s just so exciting. We changed and automated our entire funnel, from intake to onboarding. It’s great. Masterminds, conversations with coaches and other Labsters—all were a big help.  

Sara: Another one—conversations with other Labsters at LabCon and other events really helped shape our social media strategy. Picking the right person to hire for this with this made a difference, too and it’s running like a well-oiled machine. 

There was a shift where the strategy went from a thing hanging over our heads to a fleshed-out project. Hearing what other people are doing and getting that feedback during Lab events helped put our minds at ease—other people have done this and they’re successful. 

Lawyerist: You’ve mentioned the Lab community being helpful. What other ways have connecting with Labsters helped?

Rebecca: Seeing how other people struggle with similar issues has been so helpful, especially in Masterminds where we’re getting AND giving advice. Like, you know, when you’re teaching, you’re learning as much as the person you’re teaching. Sometimes giving advice or looking at others’ perspectives gives me an objective perspective of our own issues.

Sara: It’s been interesting to see how many lawyers struggle specifically with hiring and finding the right fit for their firm. You would think these are two sides of the same coin, but I’ve seen other firms hire based on people just showing up and applying. Watching other attorneys work on intentional hiring has helped our hiring, too. 

Lots of solo attorneys are struggling with this because law firms have a different hiring structure. For instance, if you wanted to start a restaurant, you might first work as a server or a host, then move to manager, then consider opening your own restaurant. Often in law firms, people skip the climb and go straight to owning. So they don’t have a lot of experience in finding the right fits.

It’s been helpful to work with Labsters who understand this idea and want to be more mindful about their hires. 

The Future of Sibus Law Group

Lawyerist: If you had one piece of advice to give to someone starting their own firm, what would you say?

Rebecca: I’d say—don’t let the noise of how everyone else practices drown you out. Keep going back to your why—why you started your firm and why you wanted to do things differently than traditional law practice.

Sara: Start with case management platforms. Don’t try to invent your own way of tracking cases and conflicts and money coming into your firm—there’s software out there that will already do this for you. It doesn’t matter which one, grab one, start throwing everything into it.

Lawyerist: Good advice. And what does the future look like for your firm?

Rebecca: Bringing legal services to the masses. Scaling up, allowing people to understand the costs of legal services and what goes into it and giving them the autonomy to choose the services they need based on the advice we give them. 

And, also, bringing this to people who traditionally shy away from going to an attorney because they think it’s complicated and expensive and it’s just going to mess up their divorce. And I mean, there are 50 million movies and TV about this misconception, so the future of our firm is changing that image.

Sara: The future is finding the right technology to solve problems that don’t require legal-specific knowledge. You don’t need legal knowledge to scan a document or answer a phone. We want to eliminate lawyer time spent on non-lawyer tasks and focus on the lawyering part. The other stuff will fall in line if we do this and access to justice costs will come down. 

Our ultimate goal is for people to come away from our firm thinking, “I love my lawyer.” That was a phrase that came up in our initial marketing development. We’re not there yet, but as far as an ultimate kind of pie in the sky goal, that’s what we want people to walk away saying. And I also want people to love being a lawyer.


What areas of your business are you looking to take to the next level?

Whether the goal of your business it to bring legal services to the masses in a new, innovative way or simply just enjoy going to work everyday, we want to help you. At Lawyerist, our number one goal is to set you on a track to blow your own expectations out of the water.

Lawyerist Lab is full of resources, expert coaches and an attorney community that want to empower you to not only reach your goals, but propel you far past it. Ready to make the plunge? Learn more here.

Lawyerist

Lawyerist is home to the largest online community of solo and small-firm lawyers in the world.
Through our Lawyerist Lab program, we work with lawyers to build more successful practices by implementing the ideas from our bestselling book The Small Firm Roadmap and our weekly Lawyerist Podcast.